Another Step Toward Cleaner Indoor Air

You will no longer be able to smoke e-cigarettes and similar devices in indoor public spaces in South Milwaukee, according to an ordinance change backed by the South Milwaukee City Council by a 5-3 vote on Tuesday.

The revised ordinance essentially extends the restrictions placed on traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes, meaning the latter can no longer be used in “any enclosed space of a public place or place of employment,” among other places.

I support the ban, and I think the ordinance purpose statement sums it up well …

The Common council recognized that smoking of cigarettes and tobacco products is hazardous to an individual’s health and may affect the health of nonsmokers/smokers when they are involuntarily in the presence of smoking. Reliable scientific studies assessed by credible health officials have found that secondhand tobacco smoke is a significant health hazard for children, elderly people, and individuals with cardiovascular disease or impaired respiratory function. Air pollution caused by smoking is an offensive annoyance and irritant. Smoking results in serious and significant physical discomfort to nonsmokers. The purported health benefits from electronic smoking devices (commonly known as e-cigarettes, e-pipes and several other trade and brand names) have not been scientifically proven, and use of these devices has not been proven safe, either for their users or for bystanders. Research indicates electronic smoking devices may lead youth to try other tobacco products. In addition, research indicates that youth who use electronic smoking devices are more likely to use tobacco products, including cigarettes, than those youth who do not use electronic smoking devices. Adopting this ordinance will promote the health, safety, comfort and general welfare of the people of the City of South Milwaukee, and especially the health interests of nonsmokers, who constitute a majority of the population of the City.

Governments can and should play a role in promoting public health, and creating regulations to do so. This is a good example of the city being proactive in doing that, even as the state determines its position on the issue.

Of course, there is reasonable disagreement on this. But, for me, as one advocate said at Tuesday’s city council meeting, allowing even e-cigarette smoking is “an invasion of clean indoor air.” It’s our job to protect against that invasion, stand up for public health and send a message that all smoking is bad. We are doing that with this ordinance change.


Filed under Health, Local Business, South Milwaukee

For A More Beautiful South Milwaukee

Beauty shot

Its mission is simple: Promote, encourage, and work to enhance the beauty of the City of South Milwaukee.

It’s also critical to our promising future.

Welcome to the new South Milwaukee Beautification Committee, which the city council unanimously endorsed at its meeting Tuesday night. The committee replaces the Streetscaping Committee, providing a broader approach to beautifying our city.

Its duties …

“Explore and help implement a variety of beautification efforts, working with applicable city departments, community organizations, and others to:

Promote and enhance natural, private and public areas in the city, including:

  • Central Business District plantings and other streetscaping efforts;
    • City welcome signs (in partnership with Garden Club);
    • Street medians;
    • City parks (Heritage Place, etc.); and
    • Other non-city public spaces as appropriate.
  • Assist in tree planting efforts, including advising on a community tree management program (per Tree City USA requirements), coordinating an Adopt a Tree program for area residents, leading on the city’s annual Arbor Day celebration, and helping secure private funding for city tree planting efforts;
  • Partner with existing groups, organizations, and events (Friends, Lions, Earth Day, etc.) to drive organized clean-up activities in South Milwaukee;
  • Develop and implement a landscape (resident and business) award program and other efforts to encourage residents and businesses to beautify their properties;
  • Educate and engage residents in other beautification projects as developed; and
  • Other programs that align with the mission (i.e., recommend locations for and requirements for community gardens; etc.).

Want to join this nine-member committee, and get your hands dirty when it comes to making our city a more beautiful place?  Learn more here. Apply for it, or any of volunteer boards and commissions, now here.

I have met so many people since I’ve been mayor who have a real passion for making South Milwaukee a more beautiful place. I join you in that passion. Here is your chance to help make that a reality.


Filed under City Services, South Milwaukee

The Next Generation Of St. Mary’s: Milwaukee Chin Baptist Church

A new church has plans for the former St. Mary’s.

Milwaukee Chin Baptist Church — a small congregation comprised of primarily Burmese refugees — plans to purchase the former Catholic church and relocate from a rented space in West Allis. The rectory will be used to house the pastor and offices.

The church has about 150 members, with average Sunday worship around 80, Pastor Jody Hice told the Plan Commission this week. They only plan to use the church for Sunday worship.

I welcome them to South Milwaukee … and am glad to see the former St. Mary’s Church fully used in a variety of creative reuses. Besides the new church community, the school is now home to Max A. Sass Funeral & Cremation Services; the hall and gym are home to MEARS Online Auctions; and the convent is home to St. Mary’s Manor.

You can learn more about Chin Baptists here. Their website is here.

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Filed under South Milwaukee

Grillworks: New Restaurant Eyed For Former Nona’s Cafe, Grebe’s

Grillworks wants to continue the legacy of great food coming out of the building at 2206 10th Ave.

South Milwaukee’s newest downtown restaurant, in the former of home of Nona’s Cafe and Grebe’s, will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and feature a “supper club-style” menu with a small bar area serving Old Fashioneds and ice cream-type drinks, as well as bakery items and hot ham on Sundays.

That’s according to Jessica Hess, who will operate the restaurant, and her family, the Orens, the former owners of Slick Willie’s (well regarded for its terrific food).

The city council’s Legislation and Permits Committee approved the establishment’s Class B liquor license at its meeting on Tuesday. It will go the full council in coming weeks.

I’ll keep you posted as the reopening date approaches. And welcome, Grillworks!

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Filed under Downtown, Local Business, South Milwaukee

Getting CPR Instructions When You Need Them Most

We’ve enhanced our dispatch service to save lives.

In an effort to increase cardiac arrest survival rates, South Milwaukee went live this week with dispatcher-assisted CPR instructions. We join several other area dispatch operations in offering this, in which certain callers to our 911 system will now be transferred to the Milwaukee County EMS Communications Center to deliver CPR instructions.

Learn more here, and here is an investigative report on how well the program has worked in Oregon.

I thank and congratulate our police and fire departments and dispatch crew for stepping up to be part of this program — and consider it another example of how we’re partnering to invest in our city services.

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Filed under City Services, South Milwaukee

Help Shape The Future Of South Milwaukee

Graef flyer

Join the conversation!

The GRAEF team is looking for feedback from residents, visitors and others as part of their ongoing work to update South Milwaukee’s comprehensive plan.

Stop by their booth at the South Milwaukee farmers’ market from 3 to 7 p.m. this Thursday to meet the group, provide your input … and have your voice heard.

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Filed under Comprehensive Plan, Downtown, South Milwaukee

Going Big With Little Free Libraries

Little Free Library

So, you might remember in June that we put a call out to local residents interested in giving Caterpillar’s former Little Free Library a good home. We had a great response. Eleven people said they wanted one of these in front of their homes!

So we began wondering, “How can we say ‘yes’ to everyone who asked?’”

Well, we’re proud to announce that everyone who asked for one, will get one. That is due to a generous donation of time and expertise from local woodworker Larry Oleson.

I just met Larry a few weeks ago, and if you’ve driven down 15th Avenue near City Hall over the years, you may know some of his work. His carved wood (and some metal) pieces adorn the front of his house 2413 15th Ave., and he has even more terrific works in his garage, from tables and chairs to wooden animals.

He’s also no stranger to Little Free Libraries. He’s constructed more than a dozen over the years.

So when I asked him about taking this on, Larry was more than happy to help.

So was Ace Hardware, which is donating paint and stain for the project, and the South Milwaukee Library, which is donating some of the wood (from old library shelves) that Larry will use and provide some books for the libraries, as needed.

The plan: Larry now has the list of people who expressed interest in the libraries and will begin construction soon. The goal is to have everyone their free library by the time the snow flies, starting with the one from Cat.

I am really excited about this community partnership, and I want to thank Caterpillar, Ace, the library and especially Larry for his contributions.

This is why I love South Milwaukee!

Be sure to check out Larry’s work for yourself at his home. Give him a call first at 414-764-6786. Tell him I said hi, and please thank him personally for stepping up to help with this project.


Filed under Caterpillar, Library, Local Business, South Milwaukee